The municipality of Växjö is a prime example of Swedish timber construction, with at least 50% of new buildings being built from wood as of 2020. Visit Växjö to see how and why wood is the way to increased sustainability.
Växjö municipality has long promoted timber construction. In recent years, this has been developed into a general strategy, known as The Modern Wooden City, to reduce Växjö’s carbon footprint. The idea is to use wood as the main construction material, as it is the only completely renewable material. There are other cities in Sweden employing similar strategies, but Växjö is furthest ahead, aiming for at least 50% wood-based new buildings in Växjö from 2020. Växjö’s approach encompasses residential, commercial and infrastructure made from wood.
Global leader in timber construction
In the past, fire safety requirements prohibited buildings taller than two storeys from being constructed from wood, but the transition to a performance-based system has made Sweden a global leader in wooden construction. Sweden is also forging ahead in digitalisation, prefabricated construction, automation and robotisation in this field. Digitalisation of information flows in the construction process leads to higher efficiency and quality.
Cross-laminated timber is another area where new business models and construction systems are helping. Sweden is a leader in this area too, particularly in fields such as moisture protection and fire safety for wood as a construction material.
Benefits of modules and prefabrication
Modular construction is well suited to prefabrication, which is also more scalable than traditional construction. There are several companies based near Växjö producing houses and buildings in wood, such as Eksjöhus, Hjältevadshus, Obos and Vida. The region is also home to numerous innovative small and medium-sized companies active in timber construction. The proximity and close collaboration between the municipality, society and industry is a key success factor in Växjö, facilitating the process from urban planning to innovation and industrial investment.
Smart Housing Småland (SHS) is an innovation environment based in Växjö that aims to foster innovation and growth within wood and glass construction. SHS is led by the Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE) and supported by Vinnova, universities and a number of regional organisations. Much of the work at SHS is related to The Modern Wooden City, such as test beds, construction projects, new technology and research projects. One example is the digitalisation of the construction inspection process, to improve quality assurance and create more robust buildings.
Another example is the use of virtual reality to test ‘auralisation’ techniques, allowing clients to try different materials and products, for instance to see how well a window will reduce noise. Conceptual studies are also underway for buildings taller than 20 stories to solve challenges in structural engineering, fire safety and acoustics. An important factor is for all testing of innovations and products to include digitalisation and circular economy performance.
Limnologen residential buildings
The Limnologen apartment buildings in the Modern Wooden City consist of four eight-storey buildings that were the tallest wooden constructions in Sweden when they were completed. The new residential project Trummens Strand will be the largest wooden housing project, comprising more than 6,000 cubic metres of wood and eight stories in the tallest buildings.